Date: 18 November 2016
Everything SME’s need to know about gamified content marketing
For the past couple of years, gamified content has arguably been the most popular form of online marketing. At the same time, however, gamification is rarely discussed as a separate marketing tool – perhaps because it has become so common that internet users barely recognise it anymore. Surveys, quizzes, apps, even loyalty programs are forms of gamified content marketing. It’s both rather discrete as well as very powerful and engaging. That is why we believe it’s useful for all small and medium-sized enterprises to know a thing or two about the art of gaming.
What is gamification?
Gamification entails the application of game elements and principles in non-game contexts. It is generally employed to increase user engagement, but it can also have other purposes; such as education, evaluation and recruitment. Due to its engaging nature, gamification is increasingly often used for marketing purposes, by businesses in all sizes and from all sorts of industries. Many studies have revealed that gamification works well and generally has a positive influence on users.
Why you should gamify your content
Gamified content marketing offers some great advantages for both SME’s as well as their customers. The basic concepts of gamification are usually based on some type of reward system, which appeals to the human psyche. Depending on the type of marketing, gamified content generally:
- Is very simplistic and easy to use
- Appeals to a bigger audience
- Motivates and rewards customers
- Improves customer loyalty
- Drives sales
For SME’s, gamified content is a powerful tool to engage customers in a playful way. It doesn’t require too much thought and time on the customer’s end, and can be very rewarding for both them as well as business owners.
Gamification in business
There are many types of gamified content that can be used as an online marketing tool. Some basic examples of online gamification include:
- Mini games
- Loyalty programs
Over the past decade, but specifically in the past few years, there have been some prime examples of businesses using gamified content. Whether it was to promote their products and services, engage existing customers or attract new customers: gamified content played a big role in reaching business goals.
One of the earliest and best known examples of gamification is the United States Army. Back in 2002, they released a video game called ‘America’s Army’, a very realistic video game aimed to attract new recruits. It is a free online game in which players play a character that has enrolled in the United States army. Players receive training on how to play the game and how to recognise enemies. Once the player has completed all the training missions, they can start playing online in simulated war missions. Basically, they get to experience working in the army from behind their computer screens. Newer versions of this “virtual army experience” have since been released and have led to an increase in applications for the national army.
When Korean car manufacturer Nissan introduced their 100% electric car, the Nissan Leaf, they used gamified marketing to continuously enthuse consumers about their new car. They introduced the NissanConnect program (previously called CarWings), an app that not only helps drivers manage their vehicle, but also keeps track of the driver’s statistics: Leaf drivers can see how many miles they drive per kilowatt hour of energy, what their driver history looks like and what their charging status is. These can be compared to regional and worldwide rankings, with drivers receiving medals if they perform well. The app ensured exposure for Nissan and a boost in sales for the Nissan Leaf.
Japanese anime series Pokémon introduced one of the latest and best known gamified marketing efforts. In the summer of 2016, Pokémon released a much-anticipated augmented reality app that allows users to catch Pokémon characters and battle other users. It was reportedly downloaded more than 15 million times within its first week of release, prompting a worldwide Pokémon hype. Although promoted as a standalone game, Pokémon Go can be seen as highly effective gamified content marketing for the Pokémon franchise: it uses the world around us, a non-game environment, to apply gamified marketing.
Affordable gamification tactics for small businesses
The examples mentioned above are all big businesses deals, but that doesn’t mean gamified content cannot be applied by smaller businesses. UK businesses are known for having some of the biggest loyalty programs in the world, with systems used by both big multinationals as well as SME’s. Here are some examples of gamification tactics that can be used for businesses of all sizes:
Loyalty cards are one of the most affordable and therefore probably the most common form of gamified marketing. SME’s can provide their customers with loyalty cards that give them all sorts of discounts and other exclusive deals when they come back regularly. In return, businesses stimulate customer retention, receive customer information and are able to expand their database at a faster rate. It’s a win-win situation!
Contests and competitions
Who doesn’t like a contest every now and then? The anticipation of possibly winning free items works well as gamified content. Host competitions on social media or enter customers in contests after they’ve purchased one of your products or services. This is both an easy and effective strategy to attract new customers and keep them coming back.
Gamified content marketing isn’t limited to customers, it can be applied to employees as well. There are many affordable software programs available for employee recognition. Most of them work with badges or a similar reward system, which you can use to show staff you encourage and appreciate their hard work.
More on online content marketing
All in all, gamified content is worth looking into for SME’s in any type of industry. If you want to learn more about bespoke online content marketing, have a look at our other blog entries and check back in with us soon for a brand-new blog.